Tag Archives: Interesting

Ecstatic palate, Spicy heart.

On entering elegance on a glass floor with lotus flowers under your feet, you emerge looking out over downtown Tokyo, from an unobstructed 35th floor view. In good weather, the city lights around Mango Tree Tokyo remind you of garlic and blinking red chili peppers in the sky. You sit and decide on the more expensive Course B (8400 yen) dinner set, because really, is there any other option, and really, it will be cheaper than ordering a la carte, right? (At this exact moment, you don’t realize that no matter how full you are after the dinner set, you will not be able to resist a couple mojitos, a bottle of wine or two, and maybe a fresh spicy papaya salad or delicious tender satay plate on the side.)

You are surprised by the first of the seven courses, a tiny surf clam salad with spicy sauce which you need to squint to see, but packs a pungency that surprised your taste buds, still recovering from the sweet aftertaste of that mojito. The deep fried chicken wrapped in some sort of Pandan Leaf is soft on your tongue and its sweet and spicy sauce relaxes you. You next receive a spicy mushroomy shrimpy Tom Yum Goong soup, and a “Steamed Pacific Cod Mousse Thai Style Flavored with red Curry”, yes you think you read that right, some sort of orange-colored cod-based Mousse filled with scallops and cauliflower, a novel concoction which is subtle but interesting enough to keep you staring. Well, by this point, your palate is cleared and you have to wait a bit, have some wine, “Take some time for yourself,” their menu exclaims, because you’ll need the rest before feasting on perhaps the most … (for lack of a better word) delicious thing you have tasted all month.

You decide to start a new paragraph to talk about this dish, because well, frankly, it deserves it. Grilled Standing Lump with Spicy herb served with Sticky Rice eeks with herbs, onions, leeks, lemongrass, red pepper, and cilantro, a gorgeous touch to an otherwise already spectacular beef. The thinly-sliced Lump (do they mean Rump?) is medium cooked and grilled with vinegar then covered with the firey mixure which makes you wish aloud, “Dear Mango god, Please let this never end!” All your friends turn to you and decide your outburst is caused by a broken heart, pour you some more wine, and hand you a desert menu, which is really a considerate gesture considering the rice noodle soup and persimmon tatine which came with the dinner set is a bit disappointing after that main course.

You order a glass of port, some organic coffee, and a divine coconut creme brulee (after which 3 of your friends quickly follow suit), because you decide it will sate your sad heart and your overstimulated hunger. This Tokyo jewel has a sister in London and one in Bangkok, and clearly prides itself quality and selection, on not being able to list every city in the world on their business cards, like some Gordon Ramsey carbon-copied mass-manufactured haute chicken fat. Today, Mango Tree has calmed your raging quest for culinary adventure and your emotional confusion has been embraced by the spicy constancy still lingering on your tongue.

Mango Tree Tokyo

Marunouchi Bldg. 35F

2-4-1 Marunouchi

Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo

Tel: 03-5224-5489

In front of New Marunouchi exit of Tokyo station.

http://www.mangotree.jp/

All’s whale that ends whale

As long as you overlook the fact that every country in the world except Japan and Iceland have ratified the anti-whaling laws, you are in for one of those rare meals that can only be found in this, quite possibly the most culinarily-adventurous cities in the world. And in this particular corner of Shibuya (right next to 109), there is no attempt to hide, or even downstate the whale.

kujira.jpgOn a recent visit, I experimented with the waiter’s suggestion of getting whale prepared 5 different ways. There are a few other things (like fried chicken!!) on the menu, but why would you want to do that to yourself? We started with whale sashimi, which was a bit bland but evoked faux-memories of sailing in the high seas with pirates chasing whales with rusty harpoons. It wasn’t bad, was soft and meaty, just didn’t have the bite that I had hoped. Whale blubber and bacon were next: white rectangles of fat which were so chewy and succulent that I regretted loading it with wasabi and soy-sauce.

We tried whale heart and whale brain, both of which I won’t detail here for purposes ofwhalebacon.jpg creating a little bit of mystery (Do order it though!). And to finish, the waiter brought out fried pieces of karage whale, which though seemingly just chicken in disguise, allowed us to fully taste the fatty vastness of whale, dipped in tangy something sauce, bringing me back to Moby Dick, pirates, and eventually, the street of Shibuya, with lights spinning a bit under my drunken shochu brain. I half-expected to emerge from Kujira-ya in the middle of a bunch of hippies protesting whale-eaters like me. But luckily… this is Japan, where eating is never a crime.

Kujira-ya

Shibuya (right next to 109)

Dogenzaka 2-29-22. Open 11am-9:45pm (LO) daily.

Tel: 3461-9145.

How sexy is your Sushi Party?

Sushi 1

What? Has TokyoFoodie.com turned into an adult site? Well, not yet anyway! But the sexier that sushi gets these days, it’s little wonder that the above picture might be censored by your Japanese company’s internet security. A new underground group of architects, designers, and sushi chefs in West Tokyo has created a series of sushi parties, in which expert sushi chefs (think Tsukiji) combine top-quality sushi with modern sculpture-esque creations, chill lounge music, and a deep red speakeasy-like bar replete with models, sushi connoisseurs and designers. It ain’t cheap, but that manages to weed out the kaiten-sushi scum crowd. As red lounge music filled the warm air, bursts of raw hirame wrapped around asparagus covered with black pepper filled our taste-buds. Soon after platters of salmon nigiri, came the toro, more than satisfying the purists who gave suspiciously peering eyes at the ikura wrapped in warm avocado on a bed of soft marinated cabbage.

Sushi 2

The hamachi decadence and aforementioned Avocado wrapped in alternating layers with tuna heaven will thank you for bringing your appetite. The concoctions were accented with spices and novel combinations of fish and vegetables which look like mini cities filled with ikura people and mackerel freeways. Keep an eye out for these secret sushi extravaganzas happening around Tokyo. Sushi is in evolution.

Sexy Sushi Party

Secret Locations around Tokyo on the Den-en-toshi line.

Watch TokyoFoodie.com for announcements.

Yum.

Sushi 3

Where NOT to eat before the Tokyo Marathon

If you walk out of this restaurant, and you haven’t loosened your belt, you haven’t truly had a Shamaim experience. Meaning “from the sky” in Hebrew, Tokyo’s premier Israeli restaurant serves up nonstop rich flavorful plates of everything from the familiar falafel, breaded steak, fried chicken and hummus to the rarer spicy carrots, garlicy tahini, tomato soup and basmati rice with lentils. Their all-you-can-eat set is incredible and diverse and even my friends who are *gasp* picky eaters, still find enough to satiate even their most tumultuous hunger.

Years ago, as legend goes, when Shamaim was merely an Israeli bar, the owner made falafel once a week. The demands for his falafel were so frequent that eventually the logical thing to do was open a full restaurant. The only complaint I could ever have with Shamaim is that the food is heavy, so heavy; walking home from Ekoda after a Shamaim visit is like lugging a suitcase through Shinjuku during rush hour. But alas, this is perhaps my own fault. An added treat for when you need some non-Japanese food and culture, is the bellydancing performances on Friday nights. Sure to bring out the hava-negila in your tastebuds.

Ekoda station on the Seibu Ikebukuro line.

Exit and turn right, pass McDonalds, then turn right at the T in the road. It’ll be 10 seconds down on your left. Second Floor.

Cozy but raw

NamazuIf you want a ghetto style bar then this is the one! Hidden inside a maze of old style Japanese shops, I would guess that burglar alerted people would think twice before entering the maze at night. For the ones who dare to enter can find Namazu in the corner, closest to the Shimo station.

All wrapped in plastic to keep the heat inside during winter where no more then ten Japanese sized people can fit in. The owner serves cheep booze (glass of beer 300yen) from his single square meter booth surrounded by low volume acid jazz. On summer nights there are tables outside and loads of local Japanese… cozy but raw. Open day and night.

Shimo-Kitazawa 2-24 [Map]

The Pure Life

Pure CafeWalking into Aveda, the spa and shop in Aoyama in which one could not possibly help but feel pampered by the bio-organic raw materials, offers of massages, aromatherapy, and yoga mats. Not to be overlooked though, is the attached Pure Cafe, a little bit of edible pleasure which leaves one walking out essentially levitating. Every day, Pure puts together sets, and you can choose your essentials, from soups, sandwiches, salads, cookies, and other dishes like vegan lasagna and torte.

I feel required to cover at least the iceberg of the Tokyo vegan scene, and even as an avid omnivore, I wholeheartedly recommend this spot to both my health-conscious friends, my hippie compatriots, and my omnivorous foodies. People often get scared away from veggie food, but Pure doesn’t just mash together a bunch of moldy vegetables into unrecognizable pate, they create simple dishes with simple sauces, food that looks like what it is, and that makes you feel like you are eating a gourmet forest. Also check out their organic wine and beverages and coffee and apparel to go!

Pure Cafe

http://www.pure-cafe.com/

5-5-21 Minami Aoyama

03-5466-2611

Modernizing the Quaker, Aggrandizing Porridge

Bio Ojiyan CaféOjiyan

For those of us who grew up on oatmeal, eating a bowl of porridge hardly seems sufficient for dinner. But toss on some organic kimchi, grated daikon, raw tuna, and *gasp*, a hot dog that looks like a flower, and you’ve got yourself one grown-up bowl of ojiyan. This Shimo-kitazawa mainstay, although half-hidden just downhill from the quiet west exit, is frequently crowded, with fashionable hipsters and tired musicians drinking a wide array of teas, juices, and interesting natto-covered oatmeal bowls.

There are myriad varieties of toppings for your basic ojiyan concoction, and interesting seasonal ones abound in set-form as well. The homey atmosphere and large windows opening up to the street seem to swell with the rotating art exhibits which cover the exposed concrete all the way back to the couches in back. It’d be hard to remain stressed in an environment like this. The food is light yet filling, and the ambience always makes me feel at home. I’ll be moving in next Wednesday.

Bio Ojiyan Café

http://www.mfs11.com/

Shimo-kitazawa, West Exit.

Exit, turn left, and walk 2 blocks downhill

(Also a branch in Harajuku, but we recommend the relaxation and understatement and unpretension of the Shimokitazawa one.)